US Commerce’s Ross to visit China for trade talks in early June

US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross gestures as he leaves after addressing delegates at the annual Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in east London, on November 6, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 25 May 2018
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US Commerce’s Ross to visit China for trade talks in early June

  • China's Vice Premier Liu He has spoken with Ross over the phone, according to state media
  • President Trump this week floated tariffs on foreign car imports

BEIJING: US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will visit China early next month for another round of talks amid ongoing trade frictions between the world’s two largest economies.
Ross will visit China from June 2 to June 4, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday, adding that Vice Premier Liu He, China’s chief negotiator in the trade dispute, had spoken with Ross over the phone. It gave no further details.
The trade dispute took on added complexity this week when US President Donald Trump announced a national security investigation into imports of cars and trucks, a probe that could lead to tariffs against China as well as key US allies such as Canada, Mexico, Japan and Germany.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Monday that Ross is aiming to negotiate “a framework” that could then turn into “binding agreements ... between companies.”
In the last round of talks in Washington in mid-May, China agreed to ramp up purchases of US agriculture and energy products, and the two sides worked toward a possible reprieve for ZTE Corp. from a US ban on American companies supplying the Chinese maker of telecoms equipment.
The developments and constructive comments from both sides eased fears that the United States and China could plunge into a trade war, but President Donald Trump said this week that any deal would need “a different structure,” fueling uncertainty over the negotiations.
Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on up to $150 billion of Chinese goods to combat what he says is Beijing’s misappropriation of US technology through joint venture requirements and other policies.
Beijing has threatened equal retaliation, including tariffs on some of its largest US imports, including aircraft, soybeans and autos.


Sri Lanka calls for global coalition to tackle rising dollar

Updated 23 October 2018
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Sri Lanka calls for global coalition to tackle rising dollar

  • The island’s currency bottomed out at a record-low 174.12 rupees to the dollar
  • The rupee has shed more than 12 percent of its value this year and Sri Lanka fears it could slide further

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka on Tuesday called for a “coalition of the willing” to help stabilize free-falling emerging market currencies around the globe, as the beleaguered rupee slumped to fresh lows.
The island’s currency bottomed out at a record-low 174.12 rupees to the dollar, resisting a slew of measures by policymakers to arrest its steady decline.
The rupee has shed more than 12 percent of its value this year and Sri Lanka fears it could slide further as US sanctions squeeze Iran, the island’s chief source of oil.
A stronger dollar has made it difficult for emerging markets to repay debts and battered global currencies from Turkey to India and Argentina.
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera invited those nations experiencing currency crises to visit Colombo and hash out a strategy.
“The rise of the dollar is having a serious impact on our currencies. We are not the only one affected,” he told reporters in the Sri Lankan capital.
“I want to build a coalition of the willing to deal with this problem. I don’t see the global situation improving any time soon.”
Washington pulled out of a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in May and has been reimposing punishing sanctions on the Islamic republic, targeting in particular its financial system.
Iran not only supplies Sri Lanka with most of its oil, but is one of its chief buyers of the island’s celebrated tea.
Samaraweera has warned that blockading Iran will have ripple on effects on Sri Lanka, which has been unable to stop the rupee from nose diving.
Last month, Colombo curbed its state institutions and public servants from importing cars to reduce the outflow of foreign capital.
Banks were also ordered to restrict lending for purchasing overseas and consumer goods, but the rupee has continued its decline.
In August, the government substantially increased taxes on small cars to discourage imports, but officials said there was still pressure on foreign exchange reserves to finance big-ticket imports.